The Electron designed by Rocket Lab debuted in May 2017. Since then the Electron has flown 12 times with 11 successes in a row.
The first flight, known as "It's a Test", launched on 25 May 2017 and successfully separated the first and second stages, as well as the fairings. However, at 224 kilometres (139 mi) altitude and on the nominal trajectory to reach orbit, the rocket lost communication with the ground, and the rocket was thus destroyed for safety reasons, per the planned launch safety protocol. The mission failed due to a glitch in communication equipment on the ground, instead of the rocket.
Several follow-on missions, including "Still Testing", "It's Business Time" and "This One's For Pickering", delivered multiple small payloads to low Earth orbit. The most recent mission, "Don't Stop Me Now", successfully delivered various payloads to orbit.
The rocket successfully launched and performed first stage separation and fairing separation. After reaching an altitude of about 224 kilometres (139 mi) (planned 500 kilometres (310 mi) at 85° inclination), the telemetry feed to the range safety officer was lost and the rocket was destroyed by range safety officer. Post-flight analysis determined the issue to be a simple ground software failure rather than a problem with the rocket. The ground software issue was found to be a contractor's failure to enable forward error correction on their hardware leading to data corruption. Rocket Lab made no changes to the Electron vehicle and instead implemented adjustment to producers to prevent similar problems.
Carrying CubeSats for Planet Labs and Spire Global. The two Lemur-2 satellites were put into a circularized orbit by the new "Electron kick stage" which was not announced until after the launch. Between December 2017 and January 2018 the launch was delayed six times due to weather, orbital traffic, rocket, and range safety issues. Put Lemur-2 payloads into 500 km (310 mi) high orbit at 85° inclination while the Dove Pioneer satellite was put into a 289 kilometres (180 mi) x 533 kilometres (331 mi).
The 11 November 2018 launch was successful; all cubesats planned to be deployed were deployed in orbit. The launch, originally planned for April 2018, had been delayed several times: to June/July after unusual behavior was identified in a motor controller during a wet dress rehearsal, by a few days after a ground tracking antenna issue in the Chatham Island tracking station and indefinitely after another motor controller issue. In October 2018, a nine-day launch window was announced starting 11 November 2018.
Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) will qualify a new type of membrane reflectarray antenna.Northrop Grumman serves as the prime contractor for R3D2. Blue Canyon Technologies provided the satellite bus, MMA Design provided the antenna.
BlackSky Global 3 is part of a constellation of Earth-observing satellites. SpaceBEE CubeSats are manufactured by Swarm Technologies to test two-way satellite communication and data relay. SpaceBEE 8 weighs 0.4 kg (0.88 lb) while SpaceBEE 9 weighs 0.7 kg (1.54 lb).
Breizh Recon Orbiter (BRO-1) is part of a constellation used for tracking maritime vessels. BlackSky Global 4 is part of a constellation of Earth-observing satellites. The two experimental satellites for Air Force Space Command are part of the "Pearl White" technology demonstration program.
ATL-1 will test new thermal insulation in space. FossaSat-1 is a communications satellite that uses low-power radio frequencies to provide Internet of things connectivity. NOOR-1A and NOOR-1B will demonstrate intersatellite link technology. SMOG-P will use a spectrum analyzer to measure electromagnetic pollution. TRSI Sat will provide flight tracking services. ALE-2 will create artificial shooting star displays. The six satellites other than ALE-2 are PocketQubes, forming Alba Cluster 2 of Alba Orbital.
This mission also was the first guided, full telemetry re-entry of the Electron launch vehicle's first stage as part of Rocket Lab's plans to re-use and re-fly rocket boosters in future missions. Recovery instrumentation on-board this flight included guidance and navigation hardware, including S-band telemetry and on-board flight computer systems, to live-gather data during the first stage's atmospheric re-entry, as well as a reaction control system to orient the booster. After the launch Rocket Lab said that the reusability tests were successful.
First launch for the National Reconnaissance Office in January.
First launch for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The NRO competitively awarded the contract under the Rapid Acquisition of a Small Rocket (RASR) contract vehicle. RASR allows the NRO to explore new launch opportunities that can provide a streamlined, commercial approach for getting small satellites into space. For the second time, the Electron booster made it past the atmosphere. Rocket Lab again said their reusability test were successful.
Part of the ELaNa 32 mission, ANDESITE is a satellite designed to study Earth's magnetic field. The M2 Pathfinder satellite will be a technology demonstration satellite to test communications. The flight will also carry three payloads for the NRO. Rocket Lab does not plan to do any recovery testing. Flight delayed due to COVID-19. A launch attempt on 11 June 2020 was cancelled due to bad weather. ANDESITE consists of ANDESITE Mule, a 6U parent spacecraft, and ANDESITE Node 1 to Node 8, small magnetometer subsatellites to be ejected from it to study magnetospheric variation. Each Node is 0.20 x 0.10 x 0.025 m in size with a mass of 0.38 kg.
In July 2019, Rocket Lab expected to have launches every two weeks in 2020. In June 2020, with a new Electron launch vehicle built every 18 days, Rocket Lab remains on target to deliver monthly launches for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021, including the company's first launch from Wallops LC-2 for the U.S. Space Force in Q3 2020 and a mission to the Moon for NASA aboard Electron and Rocket Lab's spacecraft bus platform Photon in 2021.
With Spaceflight, launching the Canon Electronics Satellite I (CE-SAT) Mark II, the first mass-production model of CE-SAT I, an Earth-observing satellite. The CE-Sat II has two cameras on the satellite which has different resolutions, also for Earth observation.
Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) is a cubesat mission that will serve as a precursor for the planned Gateway. Will use Photon to place CAPSTONE on a trajectory to the Moon.
Archinaut is an in-space robotic precision manufacturing and assembly system, enabling in-space production and assembly of the backbone structures for large telescopes, repair, augmentation, or repurposing of existing spacecraft, and robotic assembly of new space stations.
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This Template lists historical, current, and future space rockets that at least once attempted (but not necessarily succeeded in) an orbital launch or that are planned to attempt such a launch in the future
Symbol † indicates historical or current rockets that attempted orbital launches but did not ever succeed (never did or has performed a successful orbital launch)